Last night, I asked my brother what he thinks others would be most surprised to learn about me, and I expected, he answered, “the fact that you’re actually an introvert.”
Because I’ve so often received this response, I decided to think through why my perceived/projected extroversion is actually a natural extension of my introversion (and other qualities and life experiences).
- Biological limitations: I think that one’s position on the introversion/extroversion spectrum is, in-part, biologically determined. After being with big groups for a bit, and before I’m intellectually tired, my body’s energy is depleting rapidly and begging me to be alone for a while. The biological threshold of stimulation required to exhaust me can be quite low, and so I try to make the very most of the moments when I actually have energy to be with people.
- Being used to jam-packed conversations: None of my best friends went to high school with me, so when I saw them, it was a race against time to catch up and ask each other lots of questions to help each other figure out the things we were going through. We’d all exhausted by the end and need to go take a nap or read a book on our own (lol) but those conversations were precious and needed in our friendships. (Maybe putting so much effort into these conversations is another reason I’m so exhausted after even individual conversations…haha)
- Control over the limited social interaction I can take before I pass out: I absolutely cannot stand small talk (which is something many introverts express and many extroverts don’t identify with), and also know exactly what particular types of conversations I enjoy and thrive in, so asking questions and directing the conversation are ways for me to steer the conversation in the ways that I want.
- Curiosity: People — their thoughts, experiences, quirks, and what they know — fascinate me, and there’s so much anyone can offer me to satiate my curiosity. More specifically, through looking at colleges and interviewing for jobs, I’ve come to realize HOW MUCH invaluable information one can learn through conversing with the right people and directing an informative conversation. I am very, very intentional with the decisions that I make, so committing to a college or a job was a very big deal that required a lot of thinking. And often, the only way I could get the answers I needed was by approaching college admissions officers and recruiters and having extensive, probing conversations with them. (Furthermore, there’s no better way to build a memorable/meaningful rapport with someone than by having a great conversation with him/her.)